Low Carb vs Low Calorie: Who beats the battle of the bulge?

Every dieting forum I enter has two sides. One side is the anti-carb side and the other are the calorie counters. Each side believing their way is the right way, but who's really the winner? Can you really devote your life to never eating bread or pasta? Or would you want to count every calorie that slips through your lips? They both sound pretty life draining to me. I want variety in my life while at the same time seeing my feet when I look down. So low calorie or low carb which is better?


When I tried the Atkins diet or just a strict low carb diet I lost so much weight in the first 3 weeks I thought I was ill because of how fast the weight was melting off of me without adding intense exercise.

I was eating around 1600 calories a day and kept my net carbs at 18-20 a day. My pregnancy weight was falling off of me at rapid speed that I was so motivated to keep at it even though my cravings for spaghetti and pizza were at an all time high. The first 3 days of going low carb were the worst EVER. I even had a dream about meatballs attacking me with pasta made to be used as cowboy rope claiming a horse. I'm serious.

I never experienced the infamous keto flu but I did experience a lot of constipation that resorted me to taking supplements to offset the fiber reduction in my diet.

But I missed my carbs. In order to truly stick to the low carb lifestyle I had to become David Blaine in the kitchen and create ways to still enjoy spaghetti and pizza without getting knocked out of ketosis which is the stage where your body is burning fat stores at superman speeds.

Shirataki noodles (I did an article on how to cook these noodles so they taste good here) is what saved me from ending my low carb diet because I was able to eat "spaghetti and meatballs" again and Tuna noodle casserole (tuna casserole recipe here) at just 1 net carb per serving and 15 calories per serving. They didn't taste 100 percent like pasta but these noodles take on the flavor of the sauce you're using and the noodles have this Ramen noodle type consistency.

I made pizza using Wonton wrappers (recipe for the Thin crust chinese pizza and pizza cups) that eased the pizza cravings a bit.

Then it happened.

I stopped losing weight as fast if at all. I remember going 8 days without the scale moving as much as  an ounce. This wasn't a normal plateau where I'd be expecting "the whoosh effect" (this whoosh effect is explained in-depth here) this was my body being backed up from lack of fiber and getting used to a life of no carbs. *This is solely based on my own personal experience as other keto dieter's and low carber's experience different results--I'm just sharing my own experience

The 9th day of the scale not moving sent me into an emotional "If I'm not losing weight eating like this then screw it--babe order us some real pizza" then the following night being the real pasta and meatballs. I didn't want to look at cauliflower pizza or kale chips ever again! The first week off of the low carb diet my weight gain was insane. I didn't go over 1800-2000 calories each day (I may have thrown in the towel with strict carbs but I wasn't ending my weight loss journey), I know I had the delivery pizza (only 2 slices) and the portion controlled spaghetti which has heavy starches and sodium but the weight I was gaining depressed me to no end.

Which brings me to the low carb and low calorie balancing beam

Moderately Low Carb Paired with Low Calorie:

After that one week of rapid weight gain caused by falling off the keto wagon I decided to experiment a little. I allowed myself 50-100 grams of carbs (much more sustainable) and 1500 calories a day. I had a 500 calorie deficit combined with low carb that kept me from bloating. Instead of Low calorie vs low carb to lose weight how 'bout we do working as a team for rapid weight loss!

The weight started falling off of me like ice cream on a cone on a hot summers day and it was the most enjoyable weight loss diet plan I've ever done. I was able to enjoy all the foods I wanted but in healthier versions. For instance, I started taking my favorite fattening foods and making slimmed down versions like Chili's Southwestern egg rolls with Avocado Ranch dip found here and then turned my favorite Sunday night dinner of beef strogonaff into a less button popping meal found here.

Just by tweaking a few of my favorite meals I never felt like I was on the no carb side or the calorie counting side because I was eating like a King instead of a Pauper.

Here is the formula I follow to lose weight and maintain it.

1 Part portion control, 1 part moderate carb intake, 1 part low calorie, 1 part weekly exercise = weight loss success.

Basically what I'm getting at is no side is better than the other and both sides each have their own benefits but MY OWN experience tells me that both go hand-in-hand when wanting weight loss that stays off while feeling free to enjoy the many different foods the world has to offer.

A little tweaking is all you need to lose weight without trolling through the kitchen like a cockroach once the lights go out at 2 am searching for that slice of cake you kindly told your husband you had no interest in (clearly lying) to just pulling out 3/4 of the whole cake and grabbing a fork no plate.

Can I have alcohol on a low carb diet?

Yes. Vodka has zero carbs and 97 calories for a 1.5 ounce shot. Dry wine chardonnay is your next best alternative as it is lower in calories than sweet wine and the carb count falls under 4 grams for 5 ounces.

Are vegetables low carb?

Yes and No. There are some vegetables hidden with carbs but some that are really essential to a low carb plan. I will give you a list of some of the most used vegetables and list carb count with 1/4 cup servings.

Net Carbs is what is listed:

  1. Asparagus (My fave) 2.4
  2. Beets Net Carbs: 6.5
  3. Broccoli 1.5
  4. Brussels Sprouts 7.6
  5. Cabbage 1.1
  6. Carrot 5.1
  7. Cauliflower 1.1
  8. Celery 0.8
  9. Collard Greens 3.0
  10. Cucumber 1.8 (even less if you peel the skin)
  11. Eggplant 2.0
  12. 1 clove garlic 1.0
  13. Lettuce 0.5
  14. Mushroom 1.0 (I eat these daily! 8 ounces to be exact :-))
  15. Onion 4 (high in carbs eat these in moderation)
  16. Peas 6.5 (Libby's makes an individual serving cup that is less in carbs)
  17. Peppers, green 3.4
  18. Peppers, red 3.3
  19. Pickle 2.0
  20. Spinach 0.2 (Popeye wasn't lying about how good this stuff is for you)
  21. Squash, yellow 1.4
  22. Tomato 3.2
  23. Zucchini 3.3 (less if you peel the skin)

Are condiments low carb?

Most are but you'd be surpised at how many hidden carbs are found in condiments. Here's a few to use in moderation.

  1. Steak sauce (A1 has 3 net carbs for one tablespoon)
  2. BBQ sauce (3.3 net carbs in 1 ounce)
  3. Worcestershire sauce (1 net carb for one teaspoon)
  4. Ketchup
  5. Tarter sauce
  6. Teriyaki sauce
  7. Jams/Jelly

No carb condiments

If you need condiments I have a short list of safe go to sauces.

  1. Tabasco or most hot sauces (I use Tabasco on everything)
  2. Mustard
  3. Full fat mayonnaise
  4. Some horseradish sauces
  5. Vinegar
  6. pepper

* There are hidden carbs in spices as well, so check your labels.

I want to share something. When a label says zero carbohydrates that usually just means there is less than 1 gram. Manufacturer's are allowed to list a nutritional label as zero calorie or zero carbohydrates if <1 gram is in the ingredient.

This may not sound like an issue but if you're like me and can take down an entire pack of sugar free gum in a course of an hour a day then that will add up. Ex: One pack of sugar free gum has 15 sticks of gum at <1 gram of carb that can add up to 7.5 carbs from just the gum alone and if you're limited on carbs that pack of gum just costed you a nutritional helping of Brussels sprouts without realizing it. The same goes for Splenda etc.

 Best Low Carb Snacks I Eat

  • Pepperoni/Stick cheese: I always, I mean ALWAYS have a stick of pepperoni (Boar's head is my favorite) and string cheese or pepper jack sticks in my fridge for a mid afternoon snack.
  • Salami/Sliced cheese: Sliced salami and cheese rolled up dipped into mustard
  • Stuffed Mushrooms: Baked mushrooms stuffed with feta cheese
  • Stuffed Celery Sticks: Celery stuffed with cream cheese and olives with paprika (recipe here)

I'm looking for new snacks to add to my list so feel free to share some in the comments section. I love new healthy snack ideas.

The benefits of eating low carb and eating low calorie together I feel is the best plan of action. Unless you are prepared to live a life skipping the bread basket at a restaurant or counting calories down to how many are in celery have at it.

I for one, found great success adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that. 1500 calories a day 50-100 net grams of carbs and exercise works for me. Portion control is the center of all of it though. I can still eat junk once in a while as long as I properly portion it. I can have my spaghetti and meatballs if I properly portion it. If I know something has a trillion amount of carbohydrates in it I will not bother same goes for a food item loaded with thousands of calories. Common sense goes a long way when you want to live healthier and lighter.

You Know Damn for Well:

  • You know damn for well that that quadruple bacon cheeseburger with fries is a no-no so move on to the single patty burger (still getting your cheeseburger but knowing when not to be a glutton about it)
  • You know dam for well that 4 slices of a stuffed crust meat lover's pizza dipped in cheddar cheese or ranch is a no-no so move on to the 2 slices of regularly prepared pizza with veggies or go light on the pepperoni (still getting the cheesy pizza without being a glutton about it)
  • You know damn for well people don't need to be at "all you can eat buffets" and I don't have an alternative to this one beside eat until you are comfortable buffet, which is not a buffet but common sense eating. (I've gone to a couple Chinese buffets so I'm guilty of this as well but I would go to sample items that I've never had before not to see far my stomach will extend until I can't walk any further)

Basically if the food was seen on Man vs Food then stay far far away from it when trying to lose weight. I admit I drooled when watching the show and wouldn't mind splitting some of the food with my spouse--splitting what these restaurants considered a meal for one--but only as a once a year type of treat.

You don't have to crawl in your room shut the door and hide with your bag of celery sticks while your friends and family are at the movie theater snacking on popcorn to lose weight and maintain it. Portion control is key followed with lowering your carbohydrates and being mindful of the calories consumed.

I have reviews on a few portion control tools that I think you may benefit from as I did, these tools help train you to know how much of a serving size really looks like. Reviews Jaxx FitPak fit & fresh, portion control for kidsPortion Control TrimDish; Precise Portions plate, and yumbox.

I once new a chic that lost 30 pounds in two months just by ridding the fridge of soda (pop/tonic) without substituting with diet counterparts. Water is the best liquids you need. I'd much rather eat a 120 calorie snack that will give me energy then to gulp 120 calories of sugar filled soda that will not quench my thirst but leave my tongue feeling sticky.

Lifestyle change is going to lead to a happier and healthier new you. What good does walking around skinny do when you're miserable with a stomach that never stops growling?


Please share with friends on leave any suggestions or feedback in the comments section as I'd love to hear them Have a nice day. 🙂

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